Maj. Jim Taylor was at the post office this week and a man he did not know walked over and handed him a $20 bill.
The man recognized Taylor from his uniform as commanding officer for The Salvation Army in Waco and knew Taylor would put the money to good use in the service of others.
Like other businesses and families, The Salvation Army of Waco is struggling to fulfill its mission during this national health crisis and time of uncertainty.
“Struggling is the right word,” Taylor said. “But when we struggle, we see God’s providence, as well, and I think that needs to be really clear.”
The Salvation Army thrift store is closed during the pandemic, which accounts for about a quarter of the local Salvation Army’s annual income.
However, during this time when some are hoarding toilet paper and stocking their own pantries, other generous donors are remembering The Salvation Army and bringing in needed donations to keep its food pantry and homeless meal service operating.
“Even in the midst of this economic downturn and people being without jobs or on furloughs for a while, we are still getting people saying, ‘I’ve got what I need to make it through another month, but I want to make sure people who don’t have that are taken care of,’ and they are giving us checks and donations,” Taylor said.
On Monday, Salvation Army officials accepted a donation of 48 cases of bottled water donated by boys living at the Methodist Children’s Home Boys Ranch.
“The boys at the ranch decided they wanted to do something for somebody else, so they pooled all their allowances to raise enough money to buy a pallet of water,” Taylor said. “It was wonderful, and we really appreciated it.”
The Salvation Army Community Kitchen at 300 Webster Ave. is serving about 150 meals a day, which includes three meal times a day on Mondays and Tuesdays and two meal times a day the rest of the week. The men’s and women’s shelters, with total capacity for about 34, have been full most days, and people staying in the shelters have been allowed to remain there during the day to decrease the chances for spreading COVID-19, he said.
“This gives some of our homeless population a place to be and helps keep them a little more protected,” Taylor said.
Others have donated handmade cloth masks, which were shared with the senior residents at The Salvation Army William and Catherine Booth Garden Apartments on North 19th Street. Also, H-E-B donates bread for meals and for the food pantry, while Shipley Do-Nuts gives doughnuts on a daily basis, Taylor said.
Still, the agency is in need of donations for the food pantry at 4721 W. Waco Drive, and for its meal service as the health crisis continues, he said. Donations of water, canned goods, pasta, nonperishable foods, rice, beans, peanut butter and jelly in plastic jars and more are all needed and welcome, Taylor said.
“I’m pretty sure if this lingers through the month of April, we will be seeing an increase in people coming in to get food,” Taylor said. “Their children are out of school, they are out of work, they are eating more meals at home, so we are asking people to please donate if they can. We believe the need is really going to show by the end of April.”